Asian currencies muted ahead of US-China trade talks

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BENGALURU (Aug 22): Most Asian currencies traded sideways on Wednesday as investors shied from taking positions ahead of Sino-US trade talks later in the day.

Holidays in the region also kept volumes low. The Indian, Indonesian, Malaysian and Singapore markets were closed.

Lower-level talks between the United States and China expected to begin later in the day in Washington had prompted some risk appetite to creep back into the region as hopes for easing trade tensions rose.

Investors had pulled out of the dollar as risk appetite for Asia increased. The greenback was further pressured by US President Donald Trump's criticism of Federal Reserve rate hikes, and was subdued for the day.

Investors also awaited minutes of the Fed's July 31-Aug 1 policy meeting, due at 1800 GMT.

China's yuan firmed about 0.1% versus the dollar and was on track to gain for a fifth straight session.

The currency has been underpinned by a dip in the dollar for the past few sessions, as well as a stronger daily mid-point fixing from the People's Bank of China.

The Thai baht edged lower to break a four-session run of gains following disappointing July export data.

Exports, a key driver of Thai growth, rose 8.27% in July from a year earlier, after posting annual growth of 8.19% in June.

However, July's data fell short of the median forecast of 9.8% in a Reuters poll and Thailand also registered a trade deficit in July.

The Taiwan dollar inched up against the dollar, and was set to gain for a fifth straight session. Export orders grew faster than expected in July, data out on Monday showed.

Taiwan depends largely on the export of electronic goods, and export orders are a leading indicator of demand for Asia's hi-tech gadgets and other products.

South Korea's won and the Philippine peso fell slightly.

The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar as at 0536 GMT.

CURRENCIES VS US DOLLAR
Change on the day

Currency                     Latest bid  Previous day  % move
Japan yen                    110.440     110.29        -0.14
Sing dlr                     1.366       1.3656        -0.02
Taiwan dlr                   30.713      30.730        +0.06
Korean won                   1118.300    1118.4        +0.01
Baht                         32.710      32.68         -0.09
Peso                         53.358      53.35         -0.01
Yuan                         6.842       6.8513        +0.13

Change so far in 2018

Currency                     Latest bid  End 2017      % move
Japan yen                    110.440     112.67        +2.02
Sing dlr                     1.366       1.3373        -2.09
Taiwan dlr                   30.713      29.848        -2.82
Korean won                   1118.300    1070.50       -4.27
Baht                         32.710      32.58         -0.40
Peso                         53.358      49.93         -6.42
Yuan                         6.842       6.5069        -4.90